How to Conduct a Mid-Summer Thought Leadership Strategy Audit
Congratulations! Your thought-leadership content strategy made it to the middle of the year. Here are some mid-year ‘check-in’ tactics you can do to make sure your strategy finishes the year strong.
Summer is the perfect time to pour yourself a fruity frozen drink and park yourself by the pool.
If you are a marketer in the financial services industry, summer is also a great time for something equally as relaxing and enjoyable: auditing your thought-leadership content strategy to make sure it is on track to accomplish its goals for the year.
OK, maybe that isn’t quite as fun as lounging by the pool. But depending on your office culture, you might be able to figure out a way to have a frozen beverage in your hand as you review your thought-leadership progress.
It is hard to believe that we have already reached the halfway point of the calendar year. It seems like just yesterday we were formulating our content calendars for 2019 and putting the pieces and process in place to accomplish our ambitious content marketing goals.
Now is a good time for you as a marketing manager to conduct a formal audit of your strategy for the year to make sure you finish the year strong.
Here are five steps you should take to properly conduct a mid-year thought-leadership content strategy audit:
Get Everyone Together
First and foremost, set a time on the calendar where all the key stakeholders of your thought-leadership efforts—writers, designers, managers, as well as a few subject matter experts—get together to reflect on the first half of the year.
What went well? What needs improvements?
Remember: The idea isn’t to use this as an opportunity to overhaul your strategy, but to find areas where a small change here or there can make a big difference.
This is an especially good time to assess how the process of planning, interviewing, input collecting, writing, reviewing, and distribution is going for all of your thought-leadership content pieces.
Re-visit the Style Guide
I know … you’re probably tired of us harping on the importance of having a style guide and continuing to update it. But this is really important.
If this is the first year you have kept and maintained a style guide, summer is a great time to re-visit it and make sure you are following it properly and continue to add to it as the year has gone on.
Check in with the Associated Press and Chicago Manual of Style—or whatever established, institutional style guides you prefer—and see if they have made any updates during the year and decide if those updates should be applied to your firm’s style guide.
Revise Your Content Calendar
Do the ideas you plotted out on your content calendar at the beginning of the year suddenly feel stale? Have there been any major events or market developments that make the topics you identified last winter now irrelevant?
That’s OK. Now is a great time to interview your firm’s writers and subject matter experts and revise the calendar so the big, anchor pieces you planned for at the start of the year are still reflective of what’s happened in the day-to-day, quarter-to-quarter news cycle.
For instance, if you planned in January to write a piece in August based on the assumption that the Federal Reserve would continue to raise interest rates this year—something that seemed likely at the time—then you probably want to revisit that idea since, at the time of this writing, it seems more likely the central bank will actually cut rates this year.
Review Your Distribution Channels
Does that Twitter #hashtag strategy you devised at the beginning of the year still seem as genius as it did then? Is your Instagram game poppin’ or floppin’?
Get together with whomever is in charge of monitoring the performance of your social channels and other content distribution vehicles and see what the numbers from the first half of the year have to say.
Observe, for instance, which types of LinkedIn posts are getting more engagement than others, or how the traffic to your landing pages changes depending on the time of day. Is your email list cleaned up or are your newsletters sending with a high bounce rate?
There is likely important information in these numbers that can make a huge difference in the effectiveness of your content distribution—if you shift your tactics slightly.
Finally, don’t be overly discouraged if some numbers started to dip in June and July. It’s likely that much of your audience is unplugging for vacation during the summer months. So, it may not be that your content is less effective; it may just be that your audience didn’t think your sector report on supply chain logistics would be a great complement to a Pina Colada on the beach in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Explore Adding a Wrinkle or Two
Try injecting some authenticity into your content promotion by wrangling a few subject matter experts into shooting selfie-style videos on social media to promote a white paper they wrote. Or, experiment with recording short video interviews with your team using Zoom or other video-conferencing tools to upload to YouTube.
There are many easy ways to make your content stand out from the crowd—all while complying with regulatory restrictions. Just be sure to check with your compliance department before publishing.
Good luck in the second half of the year. Meanwhile, check out our video on why these five project management elements are so critical to thought-leadership writing.
About the Author Scott Wentworth is the founder and head financial writer at Wentworth Financial Communications. Scott and the team of writers and editors at WFC help professionals across the financial services industry build their brands by creating investment-grade white papers, bylined articles, newsletters, blogs, social media posts, and other forms of content marketing.